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Though pornography use skyrockets among lay leaders, pastors in United States, gospel offers hopecomment (0)

August 9, 2007

By Tal Prince

What if I told you that many of your friends and family members had secretly been sold into slavery? Once you got over the initial shock, would you want to launch a search-and-rescue mission to free them? Well, you say that may depend on the risks involved in such a mission. What if you could play a key role in freeing them simply by talking about the fact that they are enslaved? Would you do it?

Welcome to the mission. Over the next six weeks, we will begin a conversation that, if it continues, will literally free thousands of people from slavery. These slaves are not chained up on a plantation or behind barbed wire in some far-off land. But their chains are just as real, and their situations are just as dangerous.

Many people you and I know are enslaved to pornography and sexual addiction. They are destroying churches, marriages and our children, and that’s why we have to start this conversation. Shame and secrecy keep our friends and loved ones in their chains, but is not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ far more powerful than any tool that Satan has ever devised? Corrie ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

So many of our brothers and sisters are secretly struggling, but if we shine the light of the gospel into their prisons of pornography, they can experience the grace and mercy of our glorious Savior. We may have to remind ourselves several times that, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17).

Changes in pop
culture and media
Pornography, as we know it today, was first legalized in 1969 by Sweden and Denmark. The United States had, and still has, no real legislative response other than the highly subjective standard of “obscenity.” Shortly thereafter, a steady stream of hard-core pornography began to make its way to our shores in briefcases of international business people.

This has had a tremendous impact on our culture. Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and look at the pop music charts to demonstrate this point. One of the top songs in 1957 was Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up.” Nothing really objectionable there lyrically, right? Ten years later, Smokey Robinson sang that he was not interested in just one kiss with nothing behind it but if you were interested in giving him a lifetime of devotion, he would second that emotion. Now remember that hard-core pornography was legalized in 1969. Just eight years later, in 1977, the Commodores rode the song “Brick House” to the top of the charts. In it, the group members unashamedly sang, “The clothes she wears, the sexy ways, make an old man wish for younger days. She knows she’s built and knows how to please, sure enough to knock a man to his knees. She’s a brick house. She’s the one, the only one who’s built like an amazon.” Then in 1987, George Michael proudly declared, “I want your sex.” Do you see the connection here? I’m choosing not to include lyrics from the top songs from 1997 and 2007. They are even more explicit.

We have all watched as our television programming has become much more sexual. The Center for Media and Public Affairs reports that sexual content is featured once every four minutes on network television with nearly 75 percent of that activity taking place between single people. This does not include the cable channels.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that American adolescents will be subjected to nearly 14,000 explicit sexual references in 12 months. That is about 40 a day.

Pornography is an enormous industry. In 2003, pornographers raked in more than $57 billion. Americans accounted for 21 percent of the world pornography market, spending more than $12 billion on pornography in 2003. It boggles the mind to think of $57 billion, doesn’t it? By comparison, the NFL took in about $4 billion in 2006.

The Internet has had a dramatic impact on the industry. Since its inception, the average age of exposure to hard-core pornography in America has dropped to 8 years old. According to comScore Media Metrix, there are 68 million daily search engine requests for pornography. It also reports that 2.5 billion pornographic e-mails go out each day. The Internet Filter Review reports that in 2006, there were 72 million unique visitors per month to adult Web sites.

The Internet has been a major tool in the hands of our enemy. He is using it to capture so many of our brothers and sisters in chains because it offers total anonymity. People who would have never dreamed of walking into an adult bookstore or theater can now literally dive into a bottomless pit of pornography in the privacy of their own home.

Impact on families
We have all heard our share of stories about marriages falling prey to pornography. In 2003, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said pornography and other Internet sex-related issues were a major cause in 62 percent of all divorces in the last 12 months. If recent statistics are correct and the divorce rate is higher inside the church than outside, what does that say about what is happening in our homes? Focus on the Family reports that 48 percent of American families report pornography is a problem in their homes.

Men trapped in the net
In an anonymous survey conducted by Leadership magazine, seven out of 10 lay leaders in the church admitted to visiting adult Web sites at least once a week. When pastors were asked the same question, four out of 10 said they did the same.

If that many of our leaders struggle, what do you think is happening in the pews? Also disturbing here is the fact that those addicted to pornography will lie in surveys such as these.
That means the numbers of our leaders enslaved are higher.

Women and children trapped in the net
Women, both inside and outside the church, are flocking to pornography at an alarming rate. Women represent one out of every three visitors to adult Web sites. This surprises many but Zogby International surveyed American women and found that 41 percent said they have deliberately viewed or downloaded pornographic pictures and movies. As if that is not alarming enough, ChristiaNet.com reports that 20 percent of churchgoing women struggle with pornography on an ongoing basis.
Our children are being exposed and hooked at very early ages. We have all been frightened by stories of child pornography rings. Child pornography is now estimated to be a $3 billion illegal business.
It is a bleak picture, but there is hope in the gospel. Will you start talking about this? If you understand the magnitude of the suffering and will begin gospel-centered conversations about this issue, slaves can be freed.
So will you?
Can we afford not to?
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